Just ask…

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”

John Crosby

Yesterday morning I had a most unique mentoring experience. I was hiking a trail with a new colleague and we were discussing a variety of topics. I bounced an idea off of him that I have been working through in my mind and received the most valuable and insightful input. It completely changed my thinking on a particular subject. It was some of the best mentoring I could have asked for and at just the right time. The quote above describes my experience yesterday in a perfect and beautiful way.

Throughout my life I have been blessed to have several powerful mentors who have been powerful influences and sounding boards as I navigate life and leadership. Unfortunately I have long thought of mentors as a “formal” relationships that I defined as “wise and sage counsel imparting knowledge.” This isn’t the case at all. Mentoring can happen between anyone, at any time, if you are simply willing to ask and listen. You just have to ask the questions…

Criticize me; please!

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Winston Churchill

The most growth I have ever had in my life has come from criticism, not praise. I have learned to not only welcome criticism and feedback but to truly desire and appreciate it. It is the only way that one can get outside of your own mind and perceptions and see and understand the impact that you have on others.

Certainly not all criticism is good, constructive, or even relevant. However, if you start to ignore any of the feedback given to you you do so at your own peril. Some of the criticism I have received in life I disagreed with vehemently, and on further reflection might be something that wasn’t helpful or positive in any way. But it made me stop and think. It made me ask the question, “how am I behaving that could create that perception and how might I need to change if changing that perception is both important and relevant to me?”

Create a mindset where you both welcome and appreciate criticism in all areas. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it at face value, but it does mean you have to listen, reflect and learn. Who knows, it might be just what you need to hear…

Keep it simple…

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity; but I would give my life for the simplicity the other side of complexity.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

We humans are great at creating complexity. We assign worth and value to most complicated things, instead of seeking to find ways to simplify and distill into what is truly most important.

There is such beauty in simplicity. When you can break past the tendency to complicated and seek to understand the essence of what truly matters. I greatly admire those that can drill down and identify what is important and dispense with all the superfluous B.S. that we create in an attempt to justify our efforts.

How does one create this clarity in your life? In the moments within the day where the lure of complexity can be an irresistible draw? I am no expert in this arena for sure, I find myself caught in the vortex of complication far too often. However, I am intensely focused on growing and improving in this area of life.

There are a million questions or tactics one might employ in an effort to simplify (see, making it complicated is easy!) and there is probably no one solution for every situation or every person. For me, I am focused on seeking to answer one question. “What is the most important thing to focus on RIGHT NOW?” I have found that this provides great clarity, and with clarity comes simplicity. It is almost as though the lens of complexity is removed and all the non-value added things fall away.

Because complexity can be so pervasive this is a question I find myself focusing on moment to moment throughout the day. It is the question I ask myself during the pause in a conversation before I respond (when I remember to do it…) Is it working? Yes. When I remember to keep it simple that is…

Seek counsel intentionally…

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

Elon Musk

What is it that you do so well that you know that you don’t need to improve? How do you know this? Is it based on what people tell you or have you arrived at this answer by yourself? Be careful of any thinking that deludes you into believing that you have achieved a level of mastery that negates the need for further growth. That is the beginning of the end.

One of my favorite stories on this, and I don’t remember where I heard about it, was an observation that someone made about Ken Blanchard the leadership author and guru. Ken was attending a talk on leadership and was observed to be sitting in the front row taking notes feverishly, as though everything he was hearing was for the first time. Now here is a person that has achieved “Master Level” proficiency in a topic, yet he is seeking growth and wisdom as though he were just beginning. There is such power in this example for me.

This example addresses the second part of today’s quote, but what about the first portion? Who are the people that you listen to and seek feedback from? Do you you have a list of folks from whom you regularly seek out perspective, wisdom and insight? If you don’t then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you do these three things RIGHT NOW.

First, pull out a pad of paper and create a list of people whom you respect and would welcome their insight and feedback about your performance and behavior. Write as many names as you can think of then circle the top five that you can engage with this week for step two.

Second, reach out to and have a conversation with those selected individuals and do two things. 1) Let them know that you are working to improve your skills and talents in some area and would welcome their perspective and insight. 2) Give them permission to provide any feedback that they might have, even if they think you might not want to hear it.

Third, when you receive feedback do the following with great focus. Sit back and LISTEN. Receive the gift you are being given without defense or the need to respond. Ask questions to help yourself understand their perspective. Do this without judging or responding immediately. Then do this most important thing. THANK THEM for this greatest of gifts, feedback and perspective and invite them to do it again.

When do you do these things consistently and well you will create a feedback loop that will sustain and grow your leadership for years to come…

Enlist perspective…

“The most important thing about getting somewhere is starting right where we are.”

Bruce Barton

Once you have made the decision to “go” what is next? How do you start? Where do you start? The best practice I have ever found to help accomplish this is the classic “Gap Analysis.” I have written about this before here.

The real key to getting somewhere is being able to conduct an honest assessment of where you really are right now. It is so easy to buy into a false sense of self or have perceptions that aren’t reality. Enlist of the help of trusted friends and colleagues to bounce your ideas off of and ask this one question.

“Based on your understanding of my goals and desires, what is the one action you would recommend I take today to move forward?”

You don’t have to agree with the answers, you don’t even have to like the answers. But you do have to listen. If these are truly people that you trust and respect, then they have an interest in your success. Gaining outside-in perspective is incredibly valuable and can help you identify things you might have otherwise overlooked.

Starting where you are doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. Enlist the help of others. Enlist their perspective to ensure that you are truly starting from the right place.

Decide to start…

“The distance doesn’t matter, only the first step is difficult.”

Madame Marquise du Deffand

How do you know how far is far enough? Does it really matter?

Does the distance or degree of difficulty determine what is the right thing to do?

Does how far you have to go define whether or not you should make the journey?

I would strongly argue that if you let distance or difficulty define your decisions then you are choosing to let those things define your life.

It isn’t how far you go that truly matters, it is the decision to make the journey that counts. When you decide not to be limited by outside variables you are freeing yourself to act. Having made the decision to embark you are empowered and enabled to do what really counts. Take action…

Face change…

“Not everything that is faced can be changed.  But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin

The key to living with a “relentless discontent with the status quo” is to know what needs to be changed, and what doesn’t. It means knowing when things need to be changed and when they don’t. It means being able to see the world for what could be, not simply for what it currently is. And therein lies the secret, one must face change directly and clearly. The best exercise I can think of for facing change is to simply go look in the mirror. That will show you what needs to change…

The secret…

“Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another. But by all means, try something.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I had a conversation yesterday with a person whom I greatly admire and respect. During our time together we talked about the importance of understanding the opportunities we have to to serve customers and the incredible value and importance of constantly and continually trying new things, always in an effort to improve and add value to the relationship that a customer has with our respective organizations.

It is incredibly refreshing, and motivating, to share similar beliefs and perspectives with another person and to learn from those who practice those beliefs in their daily lives. That conversation was the reason that I selected this quote today.

It is easy in life to let the pace of the world, or our own internal sense of timing, dictate our ability and willingness to try new things. It is so easy to get caught up in a “pursuit of perfect” and forget that intelligent failure is where real learning occurs. It is so easy to fall in love with your own ideas and measures of success and forget that the customer (or anyone in your life with whom you have a relationship) might have a very different measure of success and value. Is is easy to be lulled into a spirit of contentment, which is only one step removed from complacency and irrelevance.

I am very thankful for the people that God puts in my life to reinforce the value of embracing change and to always push forward with an attitude of “relentless discontent with the status quo.”

Doing something, and learning from what comes from the effort, is critical for growth. There is no growth without first taking action. Try something. Be willing to fail. Learn. Try something else. Do it over and over and over again. That is the secret to growth and change…


Relentless growth…

“Goals live on the other side of obstacles and challenges. Be relentless in pursuit of those goals, especially in the face of obstacles. Along the way, make no excuses and place no blame.”

Ray Bourque

I see relentless growth as having to keys for success. First, if one can set the right goals, then those goals will inspire the effort required to bring them to fruition. Second, living life in an authentic manner without judgement, excuses or blame enables you to learn from failure and achieve those more difficult and inspiring goals. Becoming the person we were meant to be requires both.

A goal that is chosen because it is likely to be free of obstacles or challenges isn’t truly a goal. It is a choice for the easy path, to go along through life simply existing. Goals need to be hard enough, to be inspiring enough, to be powerful enough to stir your soul and make any obstacle or challenge that happens to come up worth the effort to persevere. If you have goals like that, then being relentless is simply a result of the power of a well-crafted goal.

And when you fail, and we all will inevitably fail, be candid and honest with yourself about that failure. Don’t condemn yourself, or others, and don’t justify the failure. Simply look at it through the lens of learning and growth so that the next goal has an even higher likelihood of success.

Success over the long-term requires both of these traits, and they are synergistic. Do your goals measure up? Are you learning from failure? If not, dig deeper…

The call of the wild..

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Jack London

Jack London was one of the favorite authors from my childhood. “The Call of The Wild,” “White Fang,” “The Sea Wolf” were all my companions and inspirations for life. I read each, and other of London’s works, many many times in my youth. I haven’t read any of them since that time but recently came across the copies of my books and have put them on my reading list to reread and explore again. I am very curious to see what inspiration and motivations rise after I read these book some thirty plus years after the first time I read them.

What I love about this quote is that it imbues action. There is no reason to wait for some “perfect time” in the future to do what needs to be done. If you are waiting for something to happen in order to “be inspired” or start something then you are choosing to delay. You are choosing to wait. Sometimes waiting is exactly the right thing, but that waiting should be a conscious choice, not a delay or a passive waiting for some “ideal” time or moment of cosmic alignment. Be intentional with your waiting. Go after life, it is waiting for the taking. Listen for the call of the wild, and take action.

Accept and learn…

“If you let your past control your present, then you will never have a future.”

Suzie Davis

“Learn from the past, but don’t live from it” is some advice that a very wise person once gave to me. Easy to say, harder to do day in and day out.

It is easier to let the past define you if you look at the future through the lens of what has been instead of what could be. How do you change this? Learn to accept that what has happened is well and solidly behind you, there is NOTHING that you can do to change it. However that doesn’t mean that you are allowed to forget it or ignore that it happened.

The key to the future you WANT to create is to ask yourself one question every day. “What did I do today, or learn from today, that I can use to build my tomorrow?”

Your past doesn’t define you, unless you let it…

Start throwing pebbles today…

“We must not…ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to the big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

Marian Write Edelman

It isn’t the moving of mountains that we should strive for, it is the constant and consistent throwing of pebbles at the mountain that will create the avalanche that is needed to create the change that is needed and necessary.

It can be so easy to get lost dreaming of the big and the grand and forget to do the small things that are the building blocks of a real and authentic life.

What is the one thing that you can do today, that will really and truly matter a year from today when you stick with it and make it a habit? What’s stopping you?

Leadership is influence…

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts; it is about one life influencing another.”

John C. Maxwell

The most important thing is how you treat people. It is all about you treat others. Leadership is about influence. Period.

The minute you depend on title, position, or flow chart, you have lost real leadership influence. At the end of the day it is more than just the output of the effort that matters. It is about helping others find success…

The opportunity is now…

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.”

Napoleon Hill

Every day we have a choice to make. Do we focus on what is right in front of us or do we spend our time thinking about and chasing things that may or may not really matter? In our hyper-distracted world it is so easy to get lost in the myriad of opportunities for distraction that exist outside of where we are in a given moment or place in time.

Seizing the opportunities that are in front of you doesn’t mean to settle or limit yourself. It means fully exploring the path ahead and making informed and intelligent decisions about where to go next. Quitting is easy, chasing the shiny objects is easy, shifting focus is easy. Buckling down to do the hard work RIGHT NOW is tough, but when you do it, it creates opportunities and growth that perhaps you can’t even see.

There is a big difference between running towards opportunities and running from circumstances or challenges. Sometimes the biggest and best things in life are right in front of you but they are clouded due to either familiarity or perhaps a lack of newness. What if today was the day that you decided to focus all your energy on what is right there for the taking?

The big opportunity exists each and every day for every one of us. There is nothing worse than to live a life that is simply an existence instead of a life lived out with intention and purpose. The big opportunity is to use the day ahead as fully and completely as possible. Run towards the opportunity to use today in the most powerful and positive way. If you don’t, the time is going to pass anyway. Wouldn’t you prefer to have seized the day?

Don’t miss out on the best days…

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”

Anne Frank

I can’t imagine thinking of life differently than it is expressed in this quote. Even during challenges and hard times the best is yet to come. It isn’t always the big or the grand things, it is the ability to appreciate the smallest elements of life that perhaps one never had time for before because you were too busy being busy…

It is the taste of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee during a few moments of silence and prayer on a cold winter morning. The laughter of the family around the dinner table at the end of a long day. A good nights of sleep and a morning without demands on your time. It is doing work that matters and helps people alongside people you trust and respect. It is a million little moments that happen every single day.

Perhaps the best days occur when you take the time to appreciate life, instead of simply existing. Every day can be one of those days, if you choose appreciation, gratitude and joyfulness. What a loss it would be if you had one of the best days, and missed it completely…

Hard Work = Joy!

“Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.”

Lou Holtz

I love the holidays, it is a magical time of year when everyone is a little nicer and there is extra time with friends and family. But I love when the holidays are over and it is time to get back to work. I welcome back the structure and discipline that makes success possible. It is hard to be “off” and have the same discipline that creates success. So, it is time to get back to work. Time to embrace the hard work and enjoy the effort.

Yes, there is joy that comes from hard work! The pursuit of some great goal or dream is awesome but the joy comes from the work itself. The pride that comes from having put in the effort, knowing that you are putting forth your very best and seeing results because of that work. Hard work is joyful. Hard work is fun. Hard work is a reward in and of itself. Embrace the work, because that is where joy truly lives.


Harness the energy to create the plan…

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Plato

Yesterday I wrote how much I love the start of a new year. It is a great “line in the sand” that serves as both a mental reset and a starting point for new goals. I don’t believe in setting “resolutions” as all too often those are just loosely formed ideas that don’t have a plan to turn into reality.

For me the power of a new beginning isn’t the setting of a new goal, it is the energy that you use to create the plan that will make that goal become a reality. It is the energy that you need to create a new habit. It is the energy you use to springboard into the next stop along your journey.

Don’t make resolutions, make plans. Don’t let the opportunity to harness this new energy slip past unused. Take the time today to write down your goals and plan your next actions. The new year dawns brightly, how are you going to use it?

The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.”

Josiyah Martin

Let the new year begin…

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”

Paulo Coehlo

This year, more than most, I am excited to see the year end and the new year begin. There is something both cathartic and exciting about the simple change of the calendar and the moving of the date from 12/31/2019 to 1/1/2020. This is a new year, a new decade, a new opportunity to live a life of purpose and clarity.

Of course it is just a date on the calendar, nothing more. We should live every day as though it were New Year’s Eve. With both eyes ahead and focused on what is to come. But we don’t. We get wrapped up in what is happening in the world around us and what we perceive is happening “to us.” I don’t typically make “New Years resolutions.” Instead I use the changing of the dates to reset my mind and as a starting point for new goals.

I am still refining my goals for 2020 but one of my goals is crystal clear. I want to live my life purposefully and with extreme focus on being fully present each and every day. I know that I will fail at this (likely daily) but to truly live one must be present, not simply along for the ride.

I understand that there will be laughter, and sadness. I understand that there will be joy and disappointments. I understand that there will be success and failure. And I want to be present to experience every bit of it, so that I can become a better person and continue the journey towards becoming the person that God created me to be.

Happy New Year!

The key to discovery…

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance  – it is the illusion of knowledge.”

Daniel Boorstin

It is amazing how what you think you know can change over time as you realize and learn how narrow your own thinking and perspective actually can be. Learning something new not only allows one to create new opportunities but also to understand how what you thought you knew all along was incorrect.

I wish I could go back in time and teach myself all the lessons that I have learned over the years when I discovered that what I thought I knew wasn’t a complete picture of reality.

Take the time to invest in reflection and introspection, this is the key to learning from the past and growing into the future. An open mind is the key to discovery…

Pause, Reflect, Learn…

“As we learn we always change, and so our perception.  This changed perception then becomes a new teacher inside each of us.”

Hyemeyohsts Storm

The ending a calendar year is always a time of great reflection and perspective seeking for me. I really enjoy taking the time to think back over the events and happenings of the past year. I typically think through and reflect on the answers to these questions:

  • What has has happened this year? What are the joys and disappointments?
  • What are the things that I have learned, and where do I still need to do more learning?
  • What are the best books I have read and what books did I leave unread that I want to add to my list for the next year?
  • What relationships did I grow and improve and what relationships do I need to invest in?
  • Who are the people that entered and exited my life and what did I learn from these relationships?
  • How have I grown as a Christian, Father, Husband and Leader? Where do I need to further grow and develop?
  • What are the most important events from the past year and how have I grown and learned from these?
  • What habits have I grown and cultivated that I must continue? What habits are holding me back?
  • Based on my answers to the above questions what should I Start, Stop or Continue?

This is just a general approximation of the questions that I reflect on as the year draws to a close. There are others that will come to mind as I work through the answers. I have found that in order to plan the year ahead I must do the hard work of answering critical questions so that I can learn and grow. It is amazing what you can learn when you take the time to pause and reflect with honesty and candor with oneself.

This morning as I was reading and meditating on a devotional I was reflecting on this verse and found it to be a great one to use as a lens for my “year in review” exercise.

‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28

Everything that happens to us happens for us, if we choose to allow ourselves to learn and grow from it. Making that choice is what gives each of us the opportunity to change our perceptions and better our lives.

Take the time to pause, reflect and learn from the past year before madly dashing into the new year that is ahead. There are valuable lessons to be learned if you give yourself the time to do so.

No pearls here…

“All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them, but confront them.”

William Halsey

How many times in life have we built up a problem in our minds and then when we finally deal with it find that it wasn’t such a big deal at all? It is amazing how we can create a story in our heads that is so much different than reality.

Sometimes it seems so much easier to just ignore the little things and justify doing so by saying “this isn’t worth the time” or “I’ll deal with it later.” But then the problem just grows as we ignore it. Unfortunately ignored problems we ignore aren’t like the grains of sand that become pearls in an oyster. They are more like a steady leak of water under a house that undermines the foundation over time.

What is a problem or challenge that you have been putting off for another day that could/should be addressed right now? What stops you from dealing with it? Lack of time? Fear of conflict? Worry about upsetting someone? Make a list of the things you know you should deal with, but haven’t. Rank them from easiest to handle to most challenging and then commit to tackle the first one NOW. You might be surprised at how much smaller it is when you deal with it instead of continuing to ignore it.

The biggest danger in ignoring problems isn’t that the problem get larger, it is that apathy can set in and you no longer care about resolving the problem.

The conversation in your head…

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”

Peter Drucker

Listening to the words that are being said is a hard proposition. All too often I catch myself listening just well enough to create my response. In many cases I, and most people, aren’t really listening at all, the mind is rehearsing its response to whatever is being said.

How do you achieve a higher level of listening which is more than hearing all the words? How do you listen well enough to understand the “why” of what is being said? Once you get to that level only then are you truly listening.

I have found two things that help me move past the natural tendency of my mind to be framing a response prematurely.

First, I remind myself to seek to understand the “why.” I want to do everything I can to be able to understand the why well enough to be able to see the conversation from the other side of the table or from another perspective.

Second, as I quiet my mind and truly listen to the words I remind myself to listen in order to ask questions. Listening to respond versus listening to ask questions takes a very different mindset. If one is focused on asking insightful questions in order to understand you can get closer to understanding the “why.”

Neither of these things are easy, and they are certainly not my natural tendency. Doing it well takes both diligence and intentional effort. In many ways it reminds me of a good meditation practice. When you fail, you catch yourself and simply begin again. Do it often enough, and with enough discipline, perhaps you can find yourself truly listening to the conversation that is going on and not just the one in your head…

Don’t throw away your shot…

“Opportunities are often things you haven’t noticed the first time around.”

Catherine Deneuve

How many times in life do we have something happen and only later realize that we missed an opportunity that was right there before us but we were too busy or distracted to take notice? Sometimes we get a second shot at those chances, other times we don’t.

My daughter is obsessed with the musical “Hamilton.” She can sing the lines of most of the songs and lights up in a special way when she gets to talking about it. As I pause and reflect on today’s quote I am reminded of one of the most famous songs and lyrics from the show. In the play Hamilton sings about his incredible desire to make a difference and contribute, specifically he says “I’m not throwing away my shot.”

Every day we countless opportunities to help others, to make a difference, to notice ways to help and serve others. If we aren’t careful we can be so busy that we miss these the first time around. Don’t throw away your shot, be present and aware today. Who knows what opportunities are there for you as first chance, a second chance or even more. Don’t throw away your shot…

Christmas every day…

“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.”

Eric Severeid

Just how amazing would life be if we lived with this spirit every day of the year? Why don’t we? What would it take to live out the spirit of Christ’s second commandment in our daily lives?

‘And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

If we live with this as our daily focus then it truly could be Christmas every day. How different would our lives be then?

Merry Christmas!

An incredible gift…

“Its Christmas Eve! Its the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.”

Bill Murray

Christmas Eve is one of my favorite days of the year. I said that to my kids last night and they thought I was crazy for not picking Christmas Day. The reason for my choice is simple, Christmas Eve is filled with the joy and anticipation of Christmas Day with a strong focus on the real reason that I celebrate Christmas. It is good reminder to me that the journey is more important than the goal. Sometimes we are so focused on getting somewhere that we forget to live. We spend our time wishing our lives away, living for some future moment or time. Then when that time arrives it disappears in the blink of an eye.

Revel in today. Enjoy every precious second with friends and family for tomorrow will come and go so quickly. Be fully present today, that is an incredible gift to those that you love…

How do you measure up?

“The ability to accept responsibility is the measure of the man.”

Roy L. Smith

Who is accountable? Ultimately we each are at an individual level. Sometimes it just takes the passage of time for the fog to clear and for us to see that our own actions, or inaction’s, have conspired to create a situation or circumstance.

I have found that the most successful, and the happiest, people in life are those that live with an attitude of exceptional responsibility or ownership. A given situation or circumstance might not cause them to have joy or happiness but they own how they respond to it and do not dwell on what happened to them. Instead they focus on what they can do, and sometimes that is simply to accept what they cannot control.

So how do you do this? How do you live life in this manner? Embrace these questions honestly and with a clear willingness to either admit fault, or take accountability.

  • What could, or should, I have done that would have changed the outcome?
  • If I had this to do over again what would I do differently?
  • Where did I miss something that might have helped me make a better decision?
  • What can I learn from this to make better/different decisions in the future?
  • How have my actions, or inaction’s, created this situation?
  • What lesson is God teaching me? Or perhaps said a different way, what is God preparing me for through this journey?

The bottom line is this. We are all responsible for the actions of our lives. We are responsible for how we treat others. We are responsible for every word that comes out of our mouths and every thought that passes through our minds. To be responsible we must surrender the need to be in absolute control and practice an attitude of learning and accountability. If you can’t do this, your unhappiness is your fault.

The story in my mind…

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

John Lubbock

Master Sergeant Willie Wells once told me that “in the mind of the perceiver, a perception is a fact.” This as stuck with me for over 20 years now and has been invaluable over the years. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself the question “am I am dealing with facts or perceptions here?” And that question can be about self or others.

I recently reread “Dare To Lead” by Brene Brown and one tool in there really jumped out at me. (Well, there are a lot of things in that book that are incredibly good, and it is a must read but this one relates to the topic at hand…)

The specific tool she shared was a simple way to convey to others that you have a specific perception in play. The way to do this is to start your conveyance with this simple statement, “the story I am creating in my mind is…” When you do this it is incredibly clarifying both for you and for the person that you are communicating with. It strips away ambiguity and helps make whatever you are thinking sound less like a personal attack and much more problem or challenge focused. Give it a try and see if you can create new perceptions/facts.

Mind over matter…

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

Marcus Aurelius

It is amazing how much power we have over our minds, when we choose to exercise control of our thoughts. If we don’t, then we are giving control over to something, or someone else. That would mean that we are choosing to let someone else be in charge of our lives…

Learn or die…

“You’re always learning.  The problem is, sometimes you stop and think you understand the world.  This is not correct.  The world is always moving.  You never reach the point you can stop making an effort.”

Paulo Coelho

The minute that you think you have arrived in life, it is over. There are no end to the opportunities to grow and learn. Personally I want to be reading and learning until the day that I pass from this earth. It is the only way that I can continue to contribute to others. Learning is a gift both for yourself and to others when you use that knowledge to impact their lives.

Perhaps another way to think about this is that death occurs when you stop learning. Your body might be living, but without constant growth, your mind isn’t. That is death…

Talent + Discipline = Results

“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.”

Roy L. Smith

I used this quote just over a year ago (link here) and it is just so powerful that I had to use it again.

All the talent in the world isn’t going to make you successful over the long term. One must constantly and continually refine your talents so that you can turn it into your desired results. The discipline to do the hard work is what turns talent into action and that is what translates into the results you desire. Without discipline you won’t be able to grow and transform as the world changes around you.

Choose happiness…

“For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

If given a choice, would you rather you be angry or happy? If you are like most people you would much rather be happy. Then why do we allow ourselves to be dragged down into the empty vacuum of anger?

Being angry is a choice, being happy is a choice. We are all given a very limited amount of time on this earth. Why would you choose to waste even one precious second being angry? If you can’t control it, let it go. If you can, do something about it. If you aren’t sure, do all you can to influence the outcome. But just don’t waste time being angry. Remember you could be happy instead.

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